Sutton on Houston: ‘He’s really close’

Nov 24, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) tackled by Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston (50) in the first half at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Chiefs should have two starters back in the lineup with one game to go before the playoffs.

Signs point to outside linebacker Justin Houston, out since suffering an elbow injury in Week 12, and left tackle Branden Albert, out since suffering a knee injury in Week 13, being ready for the season finale.

Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton said during Thursday’s media session he’s encouraged by what he’s seen out of Houston in recent weeks.

“My impression is he’s practiced really hard, which he did a week ago,” Sutton said. “And I think he’s really close and he’s getting there.”

Sutton said Houston, who is wearing a brace on his right arm, appears confident and that factor has a role when any time a player returns from injury.

“That’s a big part of any injury,” Sutton said. “The player once he’s cleared medically, he’s got to feel good, he’s got to feel confident that he’s back.”

But whether Houston is 100 percent healthy for the postseason remains to be seen.

“I couldn’t answer that,” Sutton said. “I just watch him and as I watch him I think he’s gotten better and better over these last three weeks. That’s really got to be answered at higher headquarters, one being the training staff and doctors and two, Justin.”

Still, it appears Houston, who practiced fully the past two sessions, is available for Sunday’s game.

While a question surrounds the need to get him in for a few plays considering the lost time, Sutton indicated that may not be necessary since Houston is a veteran.

“I think it’d be great if he could,” Sutton said of Houston potentially playing Sunday. “I wouldn’t probably lose a lot sleep if he didn’t. He’s a veteran player and played a lot of snaps, so I don’t see it as a huge thing.”

Meanwhile, Albert told reporters during Thursday’s locker room media session he’s prepared to play as the team deems necessary.

“I’m ready,” Albert said. “I’m preparing like I’m playing. That’s the goal, to help this team win. If it’s this week, next week or whenever, that’s my goal.”

Another good indication of Albert’s return is he spoke to the media, as players who are injured or don’t have a shot to play often don’t address reporters.

To rest or not to rest

With the No. 5 playoff seed secured heading into Week 17, will the Chiefs go all out or rest players against the San Diego Chargers?

It’s the question the Chiefs haven’t officially answered throughout the week and Thursday wasn’t different.

“You go in and your starters are playing, that’s just the bottom line,” offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said when asked how practice repetitions are being distributed. “It’s the last game on the season schedule and everybody has to get ready to play.”

In the meantime, a final decision may not arrive until Sunday barring coach Andy Reid revealing his decision Friday when he addresses the media.

“I think it’s going to be right down to game day,” special teams coordinator Dave Toub said. “I think it’s going to be how things go. That’s really what we talked about, so we’ll see what happens.”

Nevertheless, it wouldn’t surprise to see key starting players with limited or no playing action given Reid’s history.

Notes: The Chiefs added wide receiver Dwayne Bowe to Thursday’s injury report with a concussion after he reported concussion-like symptoms to the team, leading to him not practicing … Linebacker Tamba Hali (knee) did not practice Thursday, but this isn’t considered a long-term issue … “He should be OK down the road here,” coach Andy Reid said Monday of Hali.